I don’t like the tried and true method of running back to get a classic creator or creative team to come on to a book to spark interest and boost sales. There, I said it. I think it’s cheap, lazy, and more often than not, a pale comparison to their earlier work. Everyone loves the idea of catching lightning in a bottle a second time, but let’s be honest here, it doesn’t happen. Yes, Chris Claremont wrote the X-Men for fifteen years and told more definitive stories then any number of writers combined, but that does NOT mean that he is in any way still capable of bringing that magic out in today’s day and age.
And I mean, I don’t particularly like the modern works of Chris Claremont, but I won’t discredit his old work. Dark Phoenix Saga? Days of Future Past? Freaking awesome. X-Men: The End? A lot of big concepts that poorly came together. X-Treme X-Men? Same thing. The Neo? We don’t talk about The Neo. His Uncanny run? A few cool Rachel moments and not much else. Exiles? He killed Exiles in the water by tying it into plots he wrote for Marvel UK over twenty years ago and expecting current fans to feel a connection to it. So what happened here? When did Chris Claremont turn from the be-all-end-all of X-Men creators into the kind of writer that you see in the credits and expect a massive quality drop?
Right around 2000. Comics just moved past him, and readers stopped wanting a story where characters monologued their every action. During the 90’s, art became more and more important (thanks Image!) and writers learned to adapt, they learned to write for the artists. No longer did readers need to see actions dictated as they happened, rather they trusted capable artists to do that all on their own.
I'd call this a famous panel page, but honestly? Claremont has written it a million times in a million books.
And you know what? Artists have been doing that since….well, always. That’s what art is. And it’s not like characters all across comics felt the need to have their characters explain how their abilities worked all the time. Not like Claremont did in X-Men. Nobody could top that.
But one of the bigger things is that his mind seems incapable of moving past what he did in his genre defining run all of those years ago. He keeps digging back through continuity to revisit past events that, as the years go by, will make sense to fewer and fewer readers. I mean, let me talk about Exiles and what he did in his butchering of that beloved book of mine. I started reading X-Men full time at Onslaught, and over the years I’ve managed to read through a LOT of back issues. I mean, I like to think of myself as a historian in training, total editor mindset, but he kept losing me.
I never understood Roma, the Captain Britain Corps, the Omniverse, or any of that crap. I’m sorry, but it’s like….I was born in 1985, and I know I fit into the target demographic for a book like Exiles, so why is it being used as a vehicle for a plot that hasn’t even been mentioned in over a decade?
Because it’s a list of plots he created and that’s the sandbox he wants to play in.
You know how his Exiles run turned out?
The book was canceled pretty quietly and rebooted with an all too brief run by Jeff Parker, where in the last issue they showed Claremont’s team locked in stasis.
Essentially in limbo.
So then why is X-Men Forever actually readable? Camp value. A vintage feel….if you consider the early 90’s vintage. And, well, this is like, I don’t even know what to say. It’s fun to read because it’s bad. The characters have next to no depth if you didn’t read X-Men back then, and even given the time frame he chose, quite a few characters are out of character simply for the sake of it. And then there’s Storm.
Evil Storm and Lil’ Ro.
Yeah…..full grown full powered evil Storm, and little pint sized kiddy deaged Storm.
Who was asking for this?
I get the feeling Chris wasn’t a huge fan of X-tinction Agenda fixing that.
But what about X-Men: The End? I liked that one! Why am I bitching?
Because he was making shit up as he went along for sixteen fucking issues. He created plots that existed only for the panels they were created in. He made a big deal one issue about how Beast and Cecilia are trying to find out why mutants are burning out and dying all over the world. It wasn’t mentioned again, nor was it even left as an after thought. A Skrull version of Madelyne Pryor killed Dust in the first mini series and took her place, and then in the third she unmasked herself as Maddie and Scott said he knew the whole time. At some point between the Skrull Maddie killing and switching with Dust, and the end of the series, the fact that she was a SKRULL was forgotten and she just simply became Maddie for plot sake.
Storm was in a full body device with only her head poking out because of some undeveloped sickness or injury and Wolverine was caring for her as she was helpless. She was even attacked while helpless. Then she was back at full power without a mention as to why she wasn’t able to walk, let alone fly, just an issue before.
Wouldn't you expect this to matter? I know I did.
Carol Danvers was for some reason the sentient AI in the Starjammer. Now I understand her current resurgence had yet to come about at that point, but she was still a budding A lister due to Kurt Busiek’s Avengers run. So why would she leave Earth to go be AI in a space pirate ship?
It was a book called The End, and it left more questions than it answered.
The man still has good ideas, I won’t take that away from him. He just can’t put them on the page anymore.
But hey, it’s not my place to say. The man has made a legacy for himself that will outlive him, and me? I just try and write this column as often as I can.
Kudos, Mr. Claremont. But might I suggest you consider a job as an editor? Help younger writers craft their titles with your vast wealth of experience? Help them create plots, help nurture them. Just…..let someone else do it.
Now on a not so light note, I spent seventy-five dollars on comics this week.
- Blackest Night
- Green Lantern
- New Avengers
- Guardians of the Galaxy
- Detective Comics
- Teen Titans
- Invincible presents Atom Eve and Rex Splode
- Avengers: The Initiative
- Spider-Man: Clone Saga
- Superman Secret Origin
- Gotham City Sirens
- Ultimate Avengers
- Secret Warriors
- Worlds Finest
- Fantastic Four
How fucking insane is that?
And how insane is it that I read all of those in, more or less, one sitting. Definitely inside of five hours.
Clone Saga is awesome! Everyone read it! BRING BACK BEN!
The Gold Standard
Tags: Chris Claremont, Grey Scherl, retirement, The Gold Standard, X-Men